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Abdel Nasser's Arab-Israeli peace initiative


Anwar Sadat surprises everyone
Uri Avnery Social activist
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Have I talked about the mission of Rouleau and Nasser? I have to go back a bit. In 1970 there was Black September. It started when the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which was led by George Habash, hijacked a plane, landed it on Jordanian soil, much to the dismay of the Jordanians, and King Hussein decided that it was time to put an end to the 'state within a state'. The Palestinian resistance organisations were based in Jordan and had really turned parts of Jordan into their own country, and the King said, 'That's it, enough!' and, taking advantage of the civil war in Amman and the surrounding area, expelled the Palestinian organizations from Jordan and sent them to Lebanon. Anticipating this, they all turned to Abdel Nasser to be their mediator. Abdel Nasser was no longer the idol he had been previously, but he maintained a respectable position. So he tried to mediate between them in Cairo, but died suddenly while negotiations were going on. He apparently had very advanced diabetes, and so he died. All the geniuses around him, the Council of Officers, competed with each other over who would be the next Nasser and suddenly it was discovered that this Sadat, whom no one had thought of and who had been made Vice President because he was unimportant, seized power. It reminds me of how Olmert became Prime Minister after Arik Sharon was out of the game. Olmert had been appointed Deputy Prime Minister because he was not important, and the important ones had not been able to agree on who should be the successor, so they placed someone unimportant in the position. This has happened many times in history. Then suddenly it appears that this unimportant man is not as stupid as they thought. When Sadat came to power everyone thought he was stupid, that he was an absolute zero and not only in Israel. I was visiting England and all the experts said, 'He's nothing'. Even my 'expert' on Egyptian affairs in Paris, Henri Curiel, founder of the Egyptian Communist Party who was expelled by Nasser − we'll get to him later − also said, 'He's nothing'. And this 'nothing' suddenly proved to be a far from insignificant individual.

האם אני סיפרתי על השליחות של רולו ונאצר? אני צריך לחזור קצת. ב-1970 היה ה"ספטמבר השחור”. זה היה 70'. זה התחיל בזה ש"החזית העממית לשחרור פלסטין" של ג'ורג' חבש חטף מטוס, הנחית אותו על אדמת ירדן למורת רוחם של הירדנים, והמלך חוסיין החליט שצריכים לשים קץ למדינה בתוך מדינה. ארגוני ההתנגדות הפלסטיניים התבססו בירדן, וממש הפכו חלקים מירדן למדינה משלהם והמלך אמר: "זהו זה, מספיק!" לקח את ההזדמנות שהייתה מלחמת אזרחים בעמאן ובסביבה, וגירשו את הארגונים הפלסטיניים מירדן ללבנון. לפני שזה קרה, הם פנו כולם לעבד אל נאסר שיתווך ביניהם. עבד אל נאסר כבר לא היה האליל שהיה קודם, אבל עוד היה לו מעמד רציני. אז עבד אל נאסר ניסה לתווך ביניהם בקהיר והוא מת באמצע, פתאום. היה לו כנראה סכרת מאוד חמורה, מת. וכל הגאונים שמסביבו, מועצת הקצינים, התחרו ביניהם מי יהיה ה"נאצר" הבא ופתאום התגלה שהסאדאת הזה, שאיש לא החשיב אותו, וששמו אותו להיות סגן הנשיא מפני שהוא כל כך לא היה חשוב, תפס את השלטון. זה קצת דומה לאיך אולמרט הפך לראש ממשלה אחרי שאריק שרון יצא מהמשחק. מינו את אולמרט לסגן ראש הממשלה מפני שהוא היה לא חשוב, והחשובים לא הסכימו ביניהם מי יהיה, אז שמו אחד לא חשוב שם. זה בהיסטוריה קורה הרבה פעמים. ואז פתאום מתגלה שהאיש הלא חשוב הזה והלא נחשב הזה הוא לא כל כך טיפש כמו שחשבו. כשסאדאת הגיע לשלטון, כולם חשבו שהוא טיפש, שהוא אפס מוחלט. לא רק בארץ. הייתי באיזה ביקור באנגליה וכל המומחים אמרו "שום דבר”. אפילו המומחה שלי לענייני מצריים בה״א הידיעה בפריז, אנרי קוריאל, מייסד המפלגה הקומוניסטית במצרים שגורש ע"י נאצר, ועוד נגיע אליו, גם אמר "שום דבר". וה"שום דבר" הזה פתאום התגלה כאדם לגמרי לא מבוטל.‏

Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. As a teenager, he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Later, Avnery was elected to the Knesset from 1965 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1981. He was also the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, 'HaOlam HaZeh' from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He famously crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery was the author of several books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including '1948: A Soldier's Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem' (2008); 'Israel's Vicious Circle' (2008); and 'My Friend, the Enemy' (1986).

Listeners: Anat Saragusti

Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor and a freelance journalist and writer. She was a senior staff member at the weekly news magazine Ha'olam Hazeh, where she was prominent in covering major events in Israel. Uri Avnery was the publisher and chief editor of the Magazine, and Saragusti worked closely with him for over a decade. With the closing of Ha'olam Hazeh in 1993, Anat Saragusti joined the group that established TV Channel 2 News Company and was appointed as its reporter in Gaza. She later became the chief editor of the evening news bulletin. Concurrently, she studied law and gained a Master's degree from Tel Aviv University.

Tags: Jordan, King Hussein, Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat, Ehud Olmert

Duration: 3 minutes, 52 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017